The EMG Senior Officials decided at their 24th Meeting in September 2018 to establish an interagency Task Team to consider collaboration among UN entities with regard to the greening of the Belt and Road Initiative. This Task Team may serve as a platform for UN entities to identify synergies in their engagement with the Initiative, and to develop key joint messages connecting the Initiative with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

The Belt and Road Initiative was announced by China in 2013 to expand the ancient trade routes across six economic corridors, stretching through three continents and more than 60 countries. The initiative will imply considerable investments in infrastructure, which through its key elements including transport, irrigation, energy and information and communication technology, will play a crucial role in achieving sustainable development and the 2030 Agenda.

If Belt and Road investments lock countries into unsustainable infrastructure, technology, and resource extraction, these will have long-lasting negative impacts. However, with the right policies and safeguards in place, the Initiative has significant potential to help countries work towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals and the 2030 Agenda.

Several UN entities are already involved in the Belt and Road Initiative through bilateral memorandums of understanding with China and recipient countries. These generally call for UN Agencies to provide technical assistance to Member States where needed. One example is the strategic cooperation agreement between China and UN Environment signed in 2017.The Senior Officials saw added value in seeking to strengthen collaboration, dialogue and information sharing in the UN system, with particular focus on providing know-how and assistance towards the sustainable development and greening of the Belt and Road Initiative.

A call for interest in taking part in the inter-agency Task Team has been sent out to EMG Members. Agencies who wish to take part in this work are invited to contact the EMG Secretariat.

China's President Xi Jinping greets UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres at Belt and Road Forum, in Yanqi Lake, north of Beijing, on May 15, 2017. (Roman Pilipey/AFP/Getty Images).

China’s President Xi Jinping greets UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres at Belt and Road Forum, in Yanqi Lake, north of Beijing, on May 15, 2017. (Roman Pilipey/AFP/Getty Images).